22nd October, 2019
Why should travel e-commerce players opt for a headless commerce architecture? Because it enables companies to conduct commerce in any digital touchpoint with no integration required.
API-led or headless commerce as a concept is being increasingly considered to offer a unified brand experience across all the touchpoints - web, voice, social platforms etc. Headless content management capabilities refer to a solution that stores, manages and delivers content without a front-end delivery layer.
In such approach, commerce and content offerings are detached from the front-end and linked straight to all customer touchpoints through APIs. Airlines, too, can focus on the same to control their respective ancillary offers, for instance, air ancillaries, by abstracting and enriching their API to support any front-end delivery.
For a deeper understanding of how all of it works and can pave way for ancillary revenue via 3rd party channels, Ai’s Ritesh Gupta interacted with Barcelona-based caravelo’s CEO Iñaki Uriz Millan. Excerpts:
Ai: What does headless air commerce refer to and why it is important from an airline’s perspective?
Iñaki: The term ‘headless’ comes from ‘headless computer’ that is a computer system or device that has been configured to operate without a monitor (the missing ‘head’), keyboard, and mouse; typically controlled over a network connection.
In the context of e-commerce, ‘headless e-commerce’ refers to the use of e-commerce platforms whose components are exposed through an application programming interface as the primary mechanism of integration, in contrast to the graphical user interface. In short, it means being able to conduct commerce in any digital touchpoint with no integration required.
Ai: So why is it important to airlines now?
Iñaki: It allows airlines to deliver on their omni-channel vision. As the number of valuable potential touchpoints increases (such as IoT, Instagram, chat platforms, etc.) the need for a zero-implementation distribution solution becomes more relevant. Especially if it also ensures airlines maintain total control of the offer.
Ai: How can headless air commerce help in controlling the ancillary offer, for instance, air ancillaries?
Iñaki: By doing two core things: simplifying the integration process, and reducing the expertise and development required. Tools like widgets or code snippets can be directly deployed by marketers, providing an end-to-end merchandising experiencing. This reduces the time to market for new channels and ensures a harmonized outcome.
Ai: If we talk of creating digital, can you simply how should one approach front-end and back-end development?
Iñaki: That's the immediate benefit! As an airline, if you have to re-render your seat map or recreate your booking engine for every new app, chatbot or mini-program it dramatically slows down your time to market and increases your cost and inefficiency. Instead, through headless commerce, your back-end is embedded in your front, making the deployment eminently scalable.
Ai: Can you simplify what does abstracting a digital product means?
Iñaki: Abstracting a digital product in the airline industry is to include the business logic (the relevancy of the product to user), rendering, session management and other elements in the back-end. The abstraction comes with the inclusion of the business logic, session management and other elements in the back-end. The front-end then just renders and paints what the back-end generated dynamically. Simple content or even entire flows.
Ai: Going forward, more travel companies are looking at framework-agnostic web components as part of their digital strategy. Can you talk about the significance of this?
Iñaki: It is a first step towards a more open ecosystem of content and service providers. We hear more and more that airlines want to decouple their business logic and merchandising from their host system to reduce dependence. Headless commerce comes out of this approach: it is a logical way for airlines to improve their distribution at the same time as reducing their own complexity.
Ai: Airlines should focus on - abstracting and enriching their API to support any front-end delivery. What does this mean and how the same can help an airline considering that it could be working with so many 3rd party OTAs/ ecosystems?
Iñaki: Airlines want to be dynamic retailers and intend to merchandize their product anywhere that is relevant to them and not be held back by integrations when looking at new channels. In effect, that is what abstracting the airline product enables - frictionless deployment of an airline’s ancillary catalog in unlimited 3rd parties.
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